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Innovation & Job News

City of Toronto unveils new economic development plan

The municipal government unveiled a new economic development plan at City Hall last week. It hopes the plan will improve conditions for businesses that are thinking of setting up shop in Toronto as well as businesses that are already here, but face bureaucratic hurdles to success. Titled Collaborating for Competitiveness: A Strategic Plan for Accelerating Growth and Job Creation in Toronto, the plan is very much interested in sweating the small stuff: its focus is on streamlining zoning processes, maintaining infrastructure, and raising our city's profile--the nitty-gritty, daily details.

Among the report's key recommendations: 

- Reduce the time it takes to review development applications for employment uses.
- Maintain the current commitment to reducing the ratio of residential to non-residential property tax rates.
- Request the Province to conduct property tax assessments based on current (employment) use rather than highest market value use. Effectively, this would stop the assessment process from penalizing developers who want to retain property for employment uses rather than building lucrative condos.
- Conduct outreach "to identify and assist Toronto-based manufacturers seeking global product mandates."
- Establish a wider network of incubators and accelerators.

The ideas contained in this report are smaller-scale than ones found in some other recent economic development strategies. In 2010, the Toronto Board of Trade issued a sweeping report that was much broader in scope, for instance, including recommendations on everything from environmental policy to attracting immigrants. The emphasis on employment land use in the City report is well-timed, as Toronto is also in the middle of an Official Plan review, and a consideration of how to preserve employment lands in the face of increasing development.

Collaborating for Competitiveness will be debated at the next city council meeting, on February 20 and 21. The full text of the report is available online [PDF].

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
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